Monday, July 25, 2011

Lofty Goal

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I am into lofty goals.

It is true. I am.

I like to set goals for myself that just might be over my head. I like to attempt things that I might not be able to do. I don't like to fail. I actually hate to fail. But success only feels good when the risk of failure is real.

Maybe it is the risk that thrills the most? I think for me it just might be. Not the kind of risk that might involve death or permanent injury, but the kind that makes you face real doubt, real fear, and real challenge-and overcome!

I also love tangible measurable accomplishments. I love to earn things that cannot be taken away. And I love the process as much as the end result.

So, I have set another lofty goal for myself. It is actually the continuation of a previous lofty goal that I didn't succeed at...yet.


When: Feb 23rd, 2012
Where: Vail Lake, Temecula, CA
Why: Because I have to finish what I started.

Yes, I am going back for more. Willingly at that. I decided that I HAVE to slay this beast or it will nag at me for the rest of my life.

Of course I am nervous. Don't forget I have tried once before and didn't make it. Talk about facing doubt and fear! But I refuse to be intimidated. I am not looking forward to the cold (as that seems to be my Achilles heal) but I am going to train harder, wear more clothes, and fuel better. Simply put, I will be tougher this time around.

So, anyone out there want to join my team? Let me know, we can do this together. Also, follow along on my other blog The Perseverance Project and I will keep you posted with my progress. I'll post my workouts and training tips and anything else I think is important.

I look forward to earning my orange headband.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Broken Vases

Sometimes it is amazing how a handful of seemingly unrelated things all come together and profoundly impact my life. What appears at first as chaos and disappointment and disarray...or sometimes even an actually encouragement in the purest form.

I met an amazing woman recently. I have not met her personally, but I have met her heart and her wisdom via email more than once now. Her name is Karen and she is Joel's mom (read her story at Joel passed away just this year and despite her grief and pain she has managed to encourage me in a powerful way. I have cried many tears in awe of how someone with such a recent loss could encourage someone else like me. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Quite frankly, her words have changed my life and I am thankful for them, however they came to me.

Recently I had some issues with some vases. My sister bought a beautiful vase for me as a gift for the anniversary of Ellie's death. And it was beautiful. And touchingly thoughtful. I fell in love with it instantly. But not a few hours after she gave it to me it was accidentally broken. My sister did her best to glue it together, but in the end it fell apart despite her best efforts. So, bless her heart, she bought me two more. One to replace Ellie's and the other for Aubrey. However, only one survived. Despite how careful she tried to be, one broke. When I unwrapped the tissue paper there it sat, in two pieces.

I did my best to stay calm, but what I really wanted to do what throw that vase across the room. I felt as though everything in my life was in pieces.

I was feeling discouraged to say the least. And then Karen sent me this message...

"All I can say is that I very much felt that I was sent by God to give you some word of encouragement. Encouragement is such an interesting word, isn't it? Not "make it better." Not "cure your sadness." Blow on the embers of your courage, until the fire is bright. Because that is what we can do for each other. Give each other the courage to keep burning. And maybe I am a broken vase? Maybe God has been sending you broken vases all along. This is what I felt when I read about your heartbreaking broken vases. God was sending me to send His love. But if you open the package, you might only see a broken vase. Because now there are broken places in me. I am a broken vase, but sent with love. Maybe you have a ministry to broken vases? I don't know... just what I thought when I read about that discouraging twice broken vase..."

Oh I can't even describe how her words shone like light on the blind spots of my perspective.

We are all broken vases. We start out so perfect and lovely, full of promise, yet we are all so fragile. It is only a matter of time until we get broken. Life and circumstances trample us into bits and pieces. Now just parts we wonder how will we ever be whole again?

But what we don't always see, at least not right away, is that we can't really be used until we are broken. The pieces allow us to be remolded, they allow our shape to change, so that we can be used for something greater than what we ever thought we were intended for. The breaking process hurts no doubt. And the cracks are like scars, they never go away.

But purpose is never without problems.

Perfect vases are beautiful, sure.

But broken vases are purposeful.

I kept the broken vase. I see it differently today than I did when it got broken. I see myself in it now and I see the message that came with it. It reminds me of the bigger picture I often forget. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming I can't feel the pieces being glued back together. I get so consumed with the brokenness I don't even realize I've been made whole again.

And I now love that vase. It means more to me broken than it ever did whole.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Funeral Anniversary

Three years ago today was the funeral.

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever attend a funeral for my own child.

Three years later I can still smell the mist from the ocean and feel the breeze on my skin. I remember feeling confused. The casket just seemed too small to fit both my girls. It was like I forgot just how tiny they were.

I just sort of phased out that day. I held their memory book and told the same story over and over to anyone who would listen. I stood at their grave side knowing that life as I knew it was over. I didn't want to leave but I knew I couldn't stay.

Somehow life has gone forward. And I did leave. Just like I left the hospital the day they each died. I was good at making myself leave, but only in body. My heart stayed for quite a while, first lingering in the halls of the NICU and eventually to the edge of their little plot. All this time my heart has been just waiting for them, missing them. It honestly wasn't until my most recent visit to the cemetery that I realized I had left my heart there for all this time.

I don't know how to move forward without them. At least not as a whole person. That is my new goal this year though; to recollect all the pieces of myself and learn how to be whole again.

As whole as I can be all things considered. It is a lofty goal. But you know me, I'm into lofty goals.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Visit

We went to the cemetery Thursday as a family to remember our girls. It was a beautiful day and it felt surreal to watch my two boys play on the grass around the headstone of their twin sisters. It felt like a day at the park almost or a picnic, something other than visiting the children that we lost and miss so much.

Part of me felt suspended in a dream or movie trying to wrap my brain around a family visit to a cemetery. It was something I never imagined or ever wanted, yet there we were. I had tears and smiles though. For a minute it felt like we were all together.

This is my life. As much as I try to distance myself from the heaviness of it, it is my life. I am that mom and we are that family. I am doing my best to accept it, trust God in it, and move forward. I often feel I keep one foot in it as I get some sort of comfort from dwelling in it. But it weighs me down. I'd like to shed this burden as I'm beyond exhausted. I'd like to feel free again to simply live on. I don't want to be defined by this anymore. Shaped by it certainly, but not defined.

These are the things there is no manual for. No map. No guide. I will find my way out. It has been a lot of trial and error so far and I predict it will continue to be. I will find a way to use this to make me stronger. I will discover the good that is hiding in it and not measure it to what I lost. It simply can't compare.

I only pray that I don't waste such heartache but make it count for the good of others and trust that my pain will end...eventually.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Goodbye Aubrey

Three years ago today I had to let my Aubrey go.

Six days after we said goodbye to her sister we had to say goodbye to her. I had two worst days of my life in the same week. It changed me.

My little Aubrey was such a fighter. I remember how she liked to keep her hands above her head when she slept and how she would kick and pull at her tubes. My favorite memory of her though is how she opened her eyes a few days before she died. She had these beautiful smokey gray eyes and when I talked to her she would look straight at me. I remember how she closed her eyes for the last time while we whispered in her ear how much we love her and how much we will miss her. And then she was gone.

Today we will visit the grave site of my sweet girls to honor their memories and just check on things. I don't particularly enjoy visiting the cemetery as I know that they are not there, but I do like to check on things there just to make sure they are being respected and honored even after death. They are my babies after all and I feel compelled to look after them.

I miss you sweet baby. I miss you so much. Mommy loves you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Meantime

The meantime is a concept I have wrestled with since the moment my girls were born. In the days they were with us they were very sick and things were so touch and go I practically held my breath for 13 days straight. We were always waiting for something to happen. We waited for test results, scans, assessments from experts, and any sign of change, good or bad. We just stood next to their incubators WAITING.

I hated the waiting. Not because I am impatient but because I wanted to DO something. It made me crazy just standing around waiting. No one could tell me what to do in the meantime.

When my girls died it felt like my whole life turned into the meantime...and I am still (three years later) figuring out what to do in the meantime.

Things have not been easy lately, and by things I mean life. I feel very lost. My faith has taken some hits and I am struggling to make sense of them. I would have once thought myself too grounded to ever experience a crisis of faith, but I am telling you folks, I am having one. I feel attacked from all sides and I am not sure how much longer I can last.

I picked up one of John Eldredge's books (I found it just sitting in a pile of books in my dad's office) called Waking the Dead. The title jumped out at me because in many ways I feel dead inside and I'd like to be awoken to life again. I randomly opened it and began reading from somewhere in the middle and found the following passage. It is the perfect description of how I feel.

"...dazed and confused...we have no idea who we really are, why we're here, what's happened to us or why. Has God abandoned us?
Did we not pray enough? Is this just something we accept as "part of life," suck it up, even though it breaks our hearts? After a while, the accumulation of event after event that we do not like and do not understand erodes our confidence that we are part of something grand and good, and reduces us to a survivalist mind-set. I know, I know...we've been told that we matter to God. And part of us partly believes it. But life has a way of chipping away at that conviction, undermining our settled belief that he means us well. I mean, if that's true, then why didn't he ______? Fill in the blank. Heal your mom. Save your marriage. Get you married. Help out more. Either (a) we're blowing it, or (b) God is holding out on us. Or some combination of both, which is where most people land. Think about it. Isn't this where you land, with all the things that haven't gone the way you'd hoped and wanted? Isn't it some version of "I'm blowing it" in that it's your fault, you could have done better, you could have been braver or wiser or more beautiful or something? Or "God is holding out on me," in that you know he could come through, but he hasn't come through. And what are you to make of that? What is really going on here? Good grief--life is brutal. Day after day it hammers us, till we lose sight of what God intends toward us, and we haven't the foggiest idea why the things that are happening to us are happening to us. The days of our lives have have a way of casting a rather long shadow over our hearts when it comes to God's intentions toward us in particular."

This is SO me right now. A very long shadow has been cast over my heart as I wrestle with this strange meantime. What do I do with the time between now and...when it all finally makes sense to me. Will that time come in this life or only in the next? Will it ever come? Will I ever be able to trust God's intentions for me or am I too jaded to even want to? How do I ever awaken my heart again to an abundant life after my daughters' deaths? How can I ever feel fully alive when parts of my heart died when my girls died? I can't seem to get past these questions.

And it seem that with each day my frustration only increases. My sister bought these beautiful little vases for my girls to honor their memories this week and gave them to me with flowers inside. I set one of the vases on a little table she has in her living room and unfortunately (and totally by accident) it got broken. It was my fault for leaving it where it could be so easily bumped by young children but I still felt terrible. I looked at the little broken vase and saw my own heart--in pieces. My sister could tell I was upset and she graciously bought another one and gave it to me today. When I unwrapped it, IT WAS BROKEN! I can't explain how I felt. I thought seriously God, can I just have one thing that isn't in pieces?

I gave it back to my sister and told her to return it as they shouldn't break that easily. I offered to buy another one in case the store would not exchange it. I didn't want my sister to know how much it bothered me since it wasn't her fault at all. But inside I wanted to throw the little vase across the room and be done with it. It made me so angry.

I am not sure how to navigate this valley I am in. I hesitate to ask God because I feel resentful. It will make me very angry if God answers these prayers but not my prayers to save my babies. This prayer seems so unimportant in comparison to that one. I am not sure what to make of it.

I don't have much more to say. I feel like I am not keeping a very clear train of thought. I am going to finish that book though and see if it might not be able to shed some light on these very real struggles I am having.

Hopefully it will be a good way to fill a little bit of the meantime.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Goodbye Ellie

Three years ago today Ellie left us for Heaven.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I can see the room we were in and the nice young doctor who waited patiently outside the door with his stethoscope to tell us when she was gone. He spoke so quietly and I could see he was sad for us. I remember studying her little face so that I wouldn't forget her and I kept her wrapped up so she wouldn't get cold. She just laid there in our hands, perfectly quiet and still, and so very tiny. And when the end came it was like the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. I felt frozen, unable to even breathe, as I realized she was gone forever. I held her a bit longer anyway as I could not bare the idea of handing her over to strangers. When I finally let her go I asked to please keep her warm and don't hurt her and I walked away.

I felt something in me die when she did. I am still fighting to awaken that part of me again. But I feel that as long as I am without her it won't-can't-happen. Without her something very important will always be missing inside me.

I long for the day when I see you again sweet girl. I miss you so.
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